Family Dinner at Grandma in Louisville Summer 1962
Immigrants flocked to America in search of the American Dream. The American Dream is a well-known term, but not always easy to define. For immigrants, it meant, in some part, economic opportunities and prosperity, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! How many immigrants really thought American streets were paved with gold? While most didn’t believe they were gold, they did believe the "roads" led to wealth and golden opportunities for themselves and their children.
LEFT: My Paternal Grandparents John & Ida Liva Mattei Cincinnati, OH circa 1922
My family came to America in search of these “golden roads.” With a little luck and a lot of hard work, their dreams came true. They found good jobs, established businesses, purchased homes and made roots. They worked long hours. The focus of their leisure time revolved around family, friends, and food. Their recipes and traditions blended easily into the American way of life. As time passed and their families grew, the inevitable happened. The rise of the American, global-flavored family.
Initially, my family’s eating patterns and menus reflected their Italian roots. Rabbits “home raised” and cacciatored were frequently on depression day menus. Chicken, a rare treat on Sundays in the nineteen-thirties, became a weekly staple as prosperity returned. My childhood memories in the fifties and sixties are filled with delicious recollections of abundance and variety. When my generation of baby-boomers reached adulthood, we were slapped with the Great Inflation. There were minor bouts with shortages, especially gasoline, and the price of food staples: milk, cereal, bread, eggs and meat escalated to ridiculous levels. The inflation rate in 1980 was 13.50%. Time passed
and the economic issues of the past were forgotten yet my children and grandchildren face new challenges. The rise of globalization in the nineties has had a great influence on America and our families. The Great Recession of 2008 has also influenced the future. This website is a history of our family menus, memories and recipes from the turn of the 20th century until it’s end. This website will also be a recording of the evolution of our family-friend circles as we move from our Italian-American flavored roots to more global-flavored traditions through the 21st century and beyond. Who knows? As space exploration begins, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren may again take on the role of immigrants, adapting their menus, memories and recipes to new worlds and new civilizations.
RIGHT: Ida Liva (far right) with her two brothers, Innocente & Alfonso
Both my paternal and maternal grandparents were Italian. They all immigrated to America in 1920. They all became American citizens. I grew up listening and learning first hand how immigrants and their children adapted to their new home. The process fascinated me then as it does to this very moment as I continue to watch people come to America from all over the world. Beginning in 1969, I began to research our family history. The best way I found initially to record our history was through Genealogy. I began recording our history, with pencil, paper and charts, Then I moved to setting up an Ancestry.com account for our family to access and enjoy. Anyone would like to view this account as a guest is welcome. Just email a request at [email protected] and I will send you a invitation to view. There is no cost and you may also request to have new family members added as our family continues to grow.